Oct. 17, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As the Tennessee women's basketball team sits a little more than two weeks out from its first exhibition game of the season, the squad has kicked it up a notch in practice sessions.
"We've been going pretty hard," head coach Holly Warlick said. "(Yesterday) We got up for a 6 a.m. workout and then had a three-hour practice. I think our time we've spent putting in the hours caught up to us yesterday. Overall, I've been pretty pleased with our efforts. Been able to pick it up on what we're trying to teach. Overall, I'm very pleased."
Warlick noted the hard work the Lady Vols have been putting in, especially during the offseason.
"Cierra Burdick had a great summer and that shows," Warlick said. "(Ariel) Massengale has gotten into great shape and that shows. I look at those two in particular and what they're doing and their leadership."
Junior Meighan Simmons has stepped up her game, putting in extra hours over the summer and in the gym leading up to the first exhibition game.
"Over the summer I worked out really hard," Simmons said. "The past couple of days I've been trying to get in the gym and get extra shots and find other ways to score. Even in practice, I try to take the things I've done on my own and try to make the adjustment in practice.
"I feel like this year it's going to be about defense. We're not going to be the tallest team, but we are the quickest team, so I feel like our defense is really something that is going to help us out."
Along with the players' hard work, the squad has become well-acclimated with Warlick at the helm.
"This year she definitely has to step into the role of being a head coach," sophomore Isabelle Harrison said. "She's going to be demanding because she wants the best out of us. She's going to keep on pushing until we give it to her now."
"She's still that same energetic Holly, who is going to get excited for you," senior Taber Spani said. "But I think you're going to see a more challenging and direct language from her than you have in the past, more of the head coach language. You can definitely see that in her tone and expectations of us and what she's requiring from us. The expectations are a lot greater now that she's head coach. You see the old and the new parts of Holly. I think that's part of her evolution as a coach, and I think she's doing a great job."
With 15 days remaining before the Big Orange welcomes Carson-Newman to Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Vols are focused and determined to prove themselves.
"As far as our exhibition games, it's a test to see how well we're going to handle the situations for games to come," Simmons said. "I think from here on out we're going to do really, really well. We just have to take one game at a time and learn from every mistake."
"It's going to be tough. At Tennessee, we play tough teams, and that's what makes us Tennessee. When we play the tough teams, we become greater and greater each and every time. We have to take one game at a time and make sure that we don't get down on a game and we have to stick together."
"We're just focusing on these 11 players and trying to get the best that we can out of each and every one of us and becoming the best team that we can be," Spani said. "We'll let the results take care of themselves."